|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-03-26                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
March 26, 2012
Lake Austin ShareLunker Streak Continues; O.H. Ivie Joins In
ATHENS--Lake Austin has produced two more Toyota ShareLunkers, bringing its season total to five. The last two were caught on the same day, March 21.
Lake O.H. Ivie, which had a hot streak the past two seasons, produced its first entry of the current season March 25.
O.H. Ivie now ranks number 3 in total number of ShareLunkers produced, with 24. Lake Austin ranks sixth with 17.
Other reservoirs that have produced double-digit numbers of ShareLunker entries include Lake Fork with 249; Alan Henry, 25; Sam Rayburn, 23; Falcon, 19; Conroe, 16; Choke Canyon, 13; and Amistad, 12.
Corey Johnson of Cedar Park started the latest big-bass flurry shortly after noon March 21 with a 13.18-pound fish from Lake Austin. It was caught on a white jig in four to five feet of water. The fish was 26.5 inches long and 20 inches in girth. It is Toyota ShareLunker 533.
Just after 6:00 p.m. that same day Charles Whited of San Marcos hooked Toyota ShareLunker 534, a 13.59-pounder in Lake Austin with a Senko in eight feet of water. Whited caught his fish in a Texas Tournament Zone tournament. The fish was 26.125 inches long and 20 inches in girth.
Stacy Brookings of Midland was fishing O.H. Ivie with a spinner bait when a 13.22-pound bass ate it in eight feet of water. The fish, now Toyota ShareLunker 535, was 26.5 inches long and 20 inches in girth.
DNA testing at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department laboratory at the A.E. Wood State Fish Hatchery in San Marcos showed Toyota ShareLunker 534 to be an intergrade, a mixture of Florida and northern largemouth bass. It was returned to Lake Austin March 23. Test results on the other two fish are not yet available.
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year's season, see http://tpwd.texas.gov/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, is posted on http://www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
Editors Note: Photos of Nos. 533 and 534 are not available at this time.

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
March 26, 2012
Texas Prepares for CWD Possibility in Far West Texas
AUSTIN -- The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) has informed Texas officials that three mule deer harvested a few miles from the Texas border last hunting season have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
The deer were harvested in the Hueco Mountains, which extend into Texas northeast of El Paso in Hudspeth County. New Mexico has been monitoring annually for CWD since it was first discovered 10 years ago and this event is the closest to Texas that the disease has been detected. Texas also has had an active CWD-surveillance program for the past decade, and CWD has not yet been detected in the state. However, state wildlife officials have been preparing for the possibility since 2002.
"While this finding is not a big surprise, we're not going to ignore it," said Mitch Lockwood, Big Game Program Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "We are working with TPWD's Wildlife Health Working Group to develop a more intensive strategy for sampling, and to determine the geographical extent of the disease if it is detected in Texas."
The Wildlife Health Working Group is comprised of wildlife biologists, veterinarians and other animal-health experts from TPWD, Texas Animal Health Commission, Department of State Health Services, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, and USDA. NMDGF is also involved in the discussion.
While several thousand deer have been tested for CWD in Texas, wildlife officials express concern that the Trans Pecos region is underrepresented because of the very low number of deer and the relatively low deer harvest in that region. Samples are obtained from hunter-harvested deer, deer found dead on public roadways, and deer showing clinical symptoms. TPWD is determining how many more deer need to be sampled and deer hunters in the region could be asked for their assistance during the next hunting season.
"We are using disease models to determine the intensity of sampling that would be required to detect CWD in that deer population if it is present with a prevalence of at least two percent," said Ryan Schoeneberg, Big Game Program Specialist with TPWD.
CWD was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado and has also been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer in nearly two dozen states and Canadian provinces, including New Mexico. Although fatal in deer, there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or livestock in the natural environment.
CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease in people. CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and other cervid species and there is no vaccine or other biological method that prevents it.
"It would be almost impossible to eradicate the disease once it becomes established in a population," said Lockwood. "But, what we can do is manage the disease and minimize the risk of it spreading."
More information on CWD can be found on TPWD's website, tpwd.texas.gov or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, http://www.cwd-info.org.

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
March 26, 2012
Texas Hunting Accidents Drop to Record Low
AUSTIN - The number of Texas hunting accidents in 2011 declined to the lowest since statistical records began in 1966, according to a new report by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The number of people injured in hunting accidents in Texas fell from 25 in 2010 to 23 in 2011, and fatalities also declined from four to two during the same period.
More important than the annual dips and peaks, however, is the long-term trend continues to track downward.
"The statistics show hunting is safe and getting safer in Texas," said Terry Erwin, TPWD hunter education coordinator. "And we do believe that is directly related to hunter education."
The steady decline in the number of accidents tracks the growing number of people who take hunter education in Texas. In 1972, 2,119 people were certified in hunter education. In 2011, more than 3,000 volunteer hunter education instructors trained 43,645 hunters across the state.
The state's worst year on record for hunting accidents was 1968, when 105 accidents were reported, including 37 fatalities. In 1988, hunter education became mandatory in Texas for anyone born on or after Sept. 2, 1971.
According to Erwin, most accidents are preventable if hunters follow basic safety principles like those taught in hunter education courses.
"You know you're not going to stop accidents altogether," he said. "But you're going to help people build knowledge and skills to avoid accidents. It's things like the '10 Commandments of Shooting Safety,' the very basic safety principles that are promoted a whole lot more now than 30 or even 20 years ago."
Erwin said the significant factors behind most hunting accidents have not changed much in recent years. "Swinging on game outside a safe fire zone remains the number one cause of hunting accidents in Texas," he noted.
This happens when a person points a firearm at another hunter while following a moving target, such as a flying game bird. Hunter education teaches people to set up safe zones of fire where a gun can be safely pointed whether the target is moving or stationary.
Careless firearm handling remains another primary factor in many accidents.
"Careless handling incidents almost always involve three factors: pointing a loaded firearm muzzle at yourself or someone else with the safety off and with your finger inside the trigger guard," Erwin explained. Hunter education courses teach ways to safely handle firearms, including how to carry them in the field and pass them from one person to another.
Last year's statistics showed a decline in accidents among those under the age of 40, and a significant increase among hunters over 40. Although hunter education in Texas is not mandatory for those born before Sept. 1, 1971, it is encouraged for even the most seasoned shooters and hunters and is a requirement of anyone hunting in some states.
The complete 2011 Hunting Accident Report is available online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_rp_k0700_1124_2011.pdf .
Texans have several options available for fulfilling hunter education requirements, including the traditional two-day, 10-hour classroom environment, two free online courses, including courses in Spanish or three optional fee-associated online courses. For more information and to find a hunter education course near you, visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/learning/hunter_education/ or call 512-389-4999.
The hunter education course is a minimum 10-hour class over two days that teaches hunting safety, modern and primitive sporting arms, wildlife conservation, management, game laws, outdoor skills and responsibility. When the course is completed, the certification card is good for life and is honored by all states, Mexico, and all Canadian provinces that require hunter education. Proof of certification, which includes the card or the hunter education certification number printed on the hunting license, must be carried at all times while hunting.
Hunters ages 9-16 must either pass the course or be accompanied by a person who is at least 17 or older licensed to hunt in Texas who has had hunter education or is exempt. Hunters younger than age 9 may take the course but they will not be certified and must be accompanied by a person licensed to hunt in Texas who is at least age 17 or older who has had hunter education or is exempt. Accompanied means within normal voice control and preferably within arm's length.